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14 April 2024

Sliding sterling cheers UK realty market

By Graham Norwood

Stand by – soon there will be a glut of estate agents travelling the world telling would-be buyers just how cheap United Kingdom property has become.

Savills is creating a three-person team of senior London and new-build sales staff to tour the firm's international offices to promote UK properties. Another top-end agency, which does not want to be named, is ready to visit western and eastern Europe and Hong Kong to spread the word on how cheap it is to buy a home in London. Other agencies are preparing to follow suit. The reason? Prices are down because of the market slump, of course, but an even bigger factor in agents' thinking has been the falling value of the pound.

Estate agent Marsh & Parsons recently sold a house in central London for £1.41 million (Dh7.65m). The buyer, a Frenchman, bought it for cash. On the day of the offer, October 28, the exchange rate was £1 = €1.249, making the property cost about €1.761m. On the day of completion, December 19, the exchange rate had changed to £1 = €1.07 making the property cost just €1.509 and saving the buyer more than €250,000.

As the sterling slides so overseas interest in UK property, especially in London, is on the rise. "We've seen 20 per cent more online registrations from overseas buyers. Nationalities showing the most interest are Italy, France and the Middle East. Currently 70 per cent of our sales in central London are to foreign buyers," says Ed Mead of Douglas & Gordon agency.

Set against the scale of the UK housing market slump, such interest is relatively minor – but it does at least provide some cheer at an otherwise-miserable time.